Teens battle homophobia
HOMOPHOBIA is alive and well in Warwick say local mental health professionals, following the release of a worrying study by beyondblue into homophobic behaviour among teen boys.
The study of more than 300 Australian teenage boys found young men were engaging in homophobic behaviour at an alarming rate, with a third admitting they wouldn't be happy to have a same-sex attracted person as a friend.
Sixty per cent also reported seeing peers bullied for their sexuality, while 16% said they would actively avoid lesbian, gay or bisexual people.
Is homophobia an issue in Warwick?
This poll ended on 10 April 2015.
Yes, there is homophobia alive and well
No, I don't think it's a homophobia place to be
This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.
The confronting statistics contained in the study have shocked Warwick headspace case manager Kara Ekberg, who has had a strong involvement working with young local gay, bisexual, lesbian and transgender people for the past three years.
"It does surprise me - those figures are way too high for my liking," she said.
"As a community we can do a lot more to reduce these percentages. It's no wonder we have mental health issues amongst young LGBT people."
Research by beyondblue has shown young LGBT people are three to six times more likely to be distressed than their straight peers, twice as likely to experience anxiety and three times as likely to experience depression and related disorders.
Ms Ekberg said a lot of young gays and lesbians were worried about coming out and how people would judge them.
"Homophobic behaviour is only part of the problem - it's way more complicated," she said.
"The acceptance of family and friends and the resilience of an individual plays a big part.
"We should be talking more about this issue - it's important we start a conversation."
It's with the idea of starting a conversation that beyondblue has re-launched their Stop.Think.Respect: Left Hand campaign - a national advertising campaign aimed at ending LGBT discrimination among teenagers and young men.
The cinema ad features a group of boys bullying a left-handed teenager to highlight the absurdity of discriminating against people for just being themselves.
Beyondblue CEO Georgie Harman said the campaign drew an analogy between discriminating against someone because they are left-handed and discriminating against someone who is not heterosexual.
"It wasn't long ago that left-handed people were routinely discriminated against, told there was something wrong with them and forced to write with their right hand - thankfully that no longer happens," she said. "Sadly, the same can't be said for the discrimination faced by LGBT people, who are still made to feel like crap just for being themselves."
Research shows young males hold more homophobic attitudes than the general public, Ms Harman says.
"If we can change the views of these boys, it will benefit the whole community as they grow older with more informed and accepting attitude," she said.
Old inherited beliefs about sexuality being a choice continue to linger in society, according to Ms Ekberg.
"It's OK to have a personal belief but to be phobic about it is a different level - that's unacceptable," she said.
"We should respect each other's lives."
The Left Hand campaign ads will run for seven weeks in cinemas, on websites and on social media.
For more information about the campaign visit www.lefthand.org.au.
To talk about personal issues speak to trained mental health professionals 24/7 via the beyondblue support service on 1300224636 or the headspace Warwick team on 46611999.
What the report found:
- One in five said they find it hard to treat same-sex attracted people the same as others.
- Six in 10 said they had witnessed first-hand people being bullied for their sexuality
- Four in 10 said they had seen people bullied for the same reason on social media.
- A quarter said terms such as "homo", "dyke" and "confused" are "not really that bad".
- Four in 10 either agreed that they felt anxious or uncomfortable around same-sex attracted people or did not disagree that they felt this way
- 23% think it's OK to say something they don't like is "gay"
- 38% wouldn't be happy if a same-sex attracted person was in their friendship group.